The World is Advancing

“The World is Advancing – Advance with it” –

The Motto of Stanwood’s Monday Study Club
By Nancy Leuschel, May Palmer & Karen Prasse

Photograph, courtesy Monday Study Club.

 

The Monday Study Club was started in 1913 by a group of Stanwood women to read, study and share what they learned. There was little opportunity for education beyond the 8th grade in Stanwood at that time. It was a really small town – paving of streets with bricks was to begin a year later. The usual means of getting around was by horse and buggy, though a few Ford motor-cars were seen. A public library was not to be built until nine years later. Most of the women lived in the neighborhood that is now the west end of Stanwood near the Stillaguamish River waterfront just north of where the mills and saloons were clustered. Twin City Foods has since replaced the lumbering and shingle businesses that supported the town at the time. To remind us of these days, the 100 year old dilapidated Stanwood Hotel remains along with many of the finer first residences, the D. O. Pearson House, Masons Hall and former Odd Fellows Hall (now the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center.)
Each year the Monday Study Club chooses an annual theme to study. In the early days they gathered on alternate Mondays after the wash was done at 2 p.m. to share what they learned on their study topic. The group has met continuously since then, still learning from one another and keeping abreast of world events.
There were 17 charter members. Later the membership varied between 12 and 25 and finally settled on 24. Dues at each meeting were 10 cents each meeting in the beginning and are now $10 annually.
In July of 1915, the annual MSC picnic at Ellingson’s Grove above Port Susan was held. Invitations were extended to families and near relatives. The women pretty much had the day to themselves to meet and play. In the evening the men joined the group, a huge bonfire was built, weiner-wurts were toasted; some played games in the light of the camp-fire. The party didn’t break up until 10:00 pm.

Prior to 1928 members were, with few exceptions, always referred to by their husband’s name such as Mrs. John Brown. Nineteen thirty-one was the first year that they were referred to by their given names and in 1938 they reverted to using their husbands’ name. It was not until 1973 that members finally regained their own names for good.Each new member was invited as an opening occurred. This was to make sure that each member had a chance to present a program. Their meetings do not include food because they want to concentrate on the topics of the meeting. Many were very musical; singing was an important part of the meetings.

The Charter members were Ida Brown, Rube Brown, Regina Christianson, Virginia Cook, Florence Durgan, Mabel Holgren, Hattie Howard, Julia Knutson, Sophia Leknes, Elsa Lien, Theresa Dunlap Lien, Marie (Lien) McKean, Tillie Myron, Anna Nicks, Blanche Parsons, Jessie (Hosum) Pearson, and Louise Wenberg. In spite of being addressed the Mrs., if they didn’t have separate careers, many of these women were influential in the schools, businesses and politics of the town. Elsa Lien remembered in an 1973 interview that Blanche Parsons, from Iowa, was an active Women’s Club member and within two years of her arrival, she was the main organizer of the Stanwood Monday Study Club established as a chapter of the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Monday Study Club was represented at the 1913 Convention of the Snohomish District of the Federation of Women’s Clubs by eight members. Blanche Parsons went to the convention as a delegate and was elected Vice-President of the County Federation.

Though the backgrounds and occupations of the members are more diverse now, several early members worked in addition to raising children. Of the charter members, Louise Wenberg served as Matron of Josephine Sunset Home, later ran for State Legislature as a Farmer Labor Candidate in 1922. She served as Postmistress of the East Stanwood Post Office throughout World War II and assisted in her husband’s career as State Representative. They had a farm in Norman in the Stillaguamish Valley. Jessie Hosum Pearson was a schoolteacher at Utsalady until she married D. Carl Pearson and they moved away. Mrs. Theresa Lien operated a millinery shop in Stanwood among other business and real estate interests. Elsa Matthies Lien worked as a telephone operator for decades and was an advocate of many social causes – she helped establish the local WCTU and often was the sole fund raiser for the Red Cross. Mabel Holgren is listed as a teacher in the 1916 Polk Directory. Harriet Kalloch Howard came to Washington in 1883 from Kansas. Her husband, A. S. Howard was the owner of the Stanwood Lumber Company. Ida Brown, born in Texas was the wife of the local barber was recognized as a tireless advocate and fund raiser for the library. Marie McKean, born in North Dakota was also the wife of a barber. Julie Knutsen never married and worked as a bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Stanwood until she retired. Sophia Leknes is listed as seamstress in the 1916 Polk Directory. We are still seeking more details of the lives of some of the others mentioned.

Members were active in many community organizations, especially the Four-Leaf Clover Club (organized also in 1913 with 19 members) which raised money for the library building. They also promoted town rallies, launched a series of socials, bazaars, dinners and other benefits.

Mr. and Mrs. Frances  Durgan, Mrs.Parsons, Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Cook at the County Convention of Snohomish County Women’s Federated Clubs at the State Reformatory at Monroe, July 1915

Among their many projects was the refreshment booth during the 5 day Chautauqua of 1916, where they served old-fashioned fried chicken cooked on old-fashioned wood ranges. Their efforts netted $65, a princely sum in the 1916 economy. Generous in their giving, the also contributed to the Education Fund of the Federation, the Belgian Relief Fund, the Chicago Women’s Shelter, the Red Cross.
Minutes of the December 1914 state that MSC puts work first, social occasions after. That said, the club hosted a dinner for 36 (including husbands) in the millinery parlors of Mrs. C.P. Lein, a place big enough to handle to crowd. In 1915, Miss Mary Rauch of the UW Extension Department was asked to hold a 3-day school for housewives – assumed meaning how to be better housewives.” In 1915, The Pictorial Review, a magazine for women, offered to give MSC $150 if they sold 250 subscriptions. The women got right to it, and earned the $150. In 1916, MSC distributed many books to the public and sent a 5-year subscription for “Popular Mechanics” to the state reformatory at Monroe. In 1969, the club discontinued its association with all federations and has since been independent. The Snohomish County Women’s Club itself officially dissolved in 1985.
Currently (2009) there are 17 meetings each year with 12 set aside for talks (2 each time) starting the third Monday in September with the big reveal of the year’s program and our assignments. This meeting is held at a member’s home and is much anticipated. In addition to the 12 meetings with reports there is a Christmas party at a member’s home, a guest day at a restaurant; and the final meeting is a picnic the first Monday in June. The additional meeting is a field day to visit places that relate to the topics: a play when we studied playwrights, river cruise when we studied rivers, visits to a Greek Orthodox Church and St. James cathedral when we studied religions. Those having been members for 20 years may choose to be emeritus members and no longer had to serve on committees or give reports.

The earlier days seemed to be a time of great civility. Pace slower, but the work was harder. Many the Stanwood women then, as now, were born somewhere else and now the members note that no matter what geographic location they study, one of the members has been there. The world is advancing, and they are determined to advance with it 90 years later.
Sources:

“Monday Study Club”, typewritten article Nancy Leuschel, later published in the Stanwood News, 1990s.

Stanwood Monday Study Club, Archival materials, photographs and yearbooks, 1913-2008

Interview with Elsa Matthies Lien, interviewer: Marion Duff; recorded for the Stanwood Area Historical Society, Jan 12, 1973.

Member obituaries, Stanwood News, Twin City News

Snohomish County Federation of Women’s Clubs archival Materials, Snohomish County Museum of History, Everett, Washington.

U.S. Censuses 1910, 1920

© 2009 Monday Study Club, edited for Snocoheritage.org by Karen Prasse, Stanwood Area Historical Society. All Rights Reserved WLP Story #63

The Lady Managers of Everett’s First Hospital

By Candace Trautman

Nurses at Everett's Hospital. Electa Friday is on the right. Courtesy of Everett Public Library
Nurses at Everett’s Hospital. Electa Friday is on the right. Courtesy of Everett Public Library

Everett’s rapid growth in the early 1890s provided jobs for laborers on the bustling waterfront and in the area’s logging, mining, and railroad camps. Poor living conditions contributed to epidemics of smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid. Accidents and steam-engine explosions also regularly disrupted life for many. Most laborers lacked families and stable homes for long-term convalescence. Steamboats transported them to hospitals in other, more established Puget Sound cities. In 1892 a core of Everett’s humanitarian, civic-minded women garnered the support of their local physician, Dr. W. C. Cox, and together they convinced the city council to form an organization to build Everett’s first hospital. The volunteer efforts of these Gilded Age women, often the wives of prominent businessmen, helped bring this hospital into existence. A board of twenty-five Lady Managers ran it for a decade and they deserve recognition for steering it through the serious economic difficulties associated with the Depression of 1893.

Augusta Plummer Foster, the first Lady Managers’ President, arrived out West with hospital management experience. The term “Lady Managers” received national recognition in the early 1890s from the Board of Lady Manager’s who ran the Women’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition (commonly known as the Chicago Worlds’ Fair). At the fair, prominent American suffragettes, experienced civic leaders, important businessmen’s wives, and other educated women hosted the International Council of Women’s Congress. Fair coverage exposed the management skills of women and their successes in running numerous urban settlement houses, hospitals, women’s prisons, asylums, and reformatories. Foster’s experiences back East prepared her for leadership and personally connected her with Easterners associated with the Everett Land Company and local business developments.

Nurses at Everett’s first Hospital. Courtesy of Everett Public Library

Everett’s first hospital,
Courtesy Everett Public Library.
The Lady Managers needed about $5000 for the construction of a wooden building with a thirty-bed capacity. They grew their account at the Everett National Bank with hopes for opening a non-denominational, community hospital by fall of 1893. The traditional paternalistic model for 19th Century hospitals promoted a well-run home with the goal of restoring health and returning the sick and injured back to productivity. This required a strictly-run schedule centered on good care and hygiene along with regular meals. With lofty humanitarian pride to guide them, Lady Managers solicited funding: cash, city lots, annual memberships or subscriptions, and attendance at community events. Annual membership dues cost $3 per person and before the hospital opened, $50 purchased a lifetime membership. After it opened, people paid $100 for lifetime membership and spent $150 to endow a bed. Public entertainments garnered the most journalistic enthusiasm.
The culture-starved of Everett eagerly embraced community events sponsored by the Lady Managers. Events included plays, suppers, dances, concerts, bazaars, and picnics. A formal winter ball held in the empty building of Clark’s new department store officially kicked off fund-raising in January of 1893. Well-heeled socialites purchased $1.50 tickets per couple to dance and dine in style, and they raise $345. News articles described each woman’s elegant ball gown, the dinner menu served by the Hotel Monte Christo staff, and the decorations at Clark’s store. Other reports likened the event to bees swarming the cultural hive and they also exposed Everett’s intense rivalry with Seattle. Thirty Everett businessmen threatened to withdraw support for the hospital if the Lady Manager’s employed a Seattle band instead of local Everett musicians!

Everett’s first hospital

In the summer, ground-breaking ceremonies commenced, complete with Masonic rites and a buried time capsule. Slayton, Downey & Co. built the hospital to designs by Berglund & MacKenzie. However, the Depression of 1893 hit hard that summer and slowed down the efforts to open the hospital debt-free by fall. Simple, inexpensive community fund-raising events continued to gather support, but at a slower pace than anticipated. Events included plays and a steamboat ride for 50 cents to a picnic at the Tulalip Reservation. By fall, the economic downturn created the need for specific fund-raisers, such as the “Furnace Dance”. With moderately priced 25 cent tickets, the dance netted $40. Fall and winter events included a concert and the first annual Christmas bazaar with booths of donated items and inexpensive food choices. Chicken salad and oyster stew – the highest priced items – cost 25 cents per serving. Baked beans, veal, ham, coleslaw, cakes and pies ranged from 5 – 20 cents per item. The bazaar brought in about $200 and helped the hospital open the doors in January of 1894.

The following may not be a complete list of Lady Managers, just those listed in news accounts. If you have information on Lady Managers, please contact the Northwest Room at the Everett Public Library.

March 1893:
President, Mrs. Augusta Plummer Foster; 1st Vice President, Mrs. W. G. Swalwell; 2nd Vice President Mrs. L.K. Church; 3rd Vice President, Mrs. J. J. Clark; Secretary, Mrs. S. S. Neff; Treasurer, Mrs. C. D. Fratt; Additional Members: Mesdames James M. Vernon, C. P. Moore, B. S. Grosscup, R. M. Mitchell, E. D. Smith, M. Swartout, J. J. Rutledge, R. McFarland, D. F. Powers, G. L Hutchings, Stephen Knowlton, D. S. Hawley, S. F. Robinson, W. De F. Edwards, Edward Mills, H. M. Turrell, E. C. White, W. C. Butler, and Miss Annie Brown.

April, 1893: Mrs. Schuyler Duryee

Apr, 1896: Emma L. Edwards, Secretary.; Mrs. Baird, Treasurer; Mrs. Foster, President resigned due to a move to Tacoma, new President Mrs. C. C. Brown

April, 1901:
President, Mrs. C. C Brown; Vice Presidents: 1st VP Mrs. L. E Thayer, 2nd VP Mrs. W. G. Swalwell, 3rd VP Mrs. Walter Thornton, Secretary Mrs. W De F Edwards, and Treasurer Mrs. Bert A. Vollans. Other Members, Mesdames: J. T. McChesney, W. G. Bickelhaupt, E. A. Nickerson, T. B. Sumner, F. Schofield, C. E. Hill, W. F. Hall, Ella Jarman, E. L. Bailey, C. G. Smythe, C. I. Marshall, George St. John, R. B. Hassell, F. A. Wheelihan, Rexford, A. A. Brodeck, F. A. Clark, A. C. Campbell, A. L. Manning.

Feb, 1903:
Mesdames: C. C. Brown, W. de F. Edwards, W. G. Swalwell, L E. Thayer, F. Schofield, B. H. Vollans, Edgar Bailey, James B. Best, F. K. Baker, A. A. Brodeck, H. W. Bell, W. G. Bikelhaupt, J. A. Coleman, J. H. Gillett, H. Lansdowne, C. G. Smythe, George E. St. John, T. B. Sumner, Walter Thornton.

Miss Jennie E. Huntley, the first matron of the hospital, helped nurse five patients in the first month of operations. She lived on the first floor of the hospital and arrived out West with nursing experience in Massachusetts and New York. Her first floor location also oversaw the reception area and surgery rooms while the second floor housed patient wards. The third floor provided extra space for future beds and the nurses’ quarters. A nursing school started in the late 1890s and produced seventeen new nurses. The basement hummed with laundry and cooking facilities, but by 1901 Everett’s population expansion stretched the hospital’s capabilities. The

Photo of Hospital expansion

Lady Managers appealed for funding and raised $3000 for renovation and expansion. By 1903, up to seventy patients per month strained the Lady Managers’ ability to pay the bills, especially since they refused to turn away poor patients who could not pay their fees.
Many factors contributed to the Lady Managers’ financial strains. Certainly Everett’s rapid expansion contributed to the need for change, however, larger issues on a national and cultural level also contributed to this strain. A major cause stemmed from rapid advancements in scientific knowledge that revolutionized the practice of medicine. Scientific progress created a new model for hospital care based on an accurate diagnosis. Laboratory testing, bacteria’s role in infection and disease, aseptic surgical techniques, and new diagnostic equipment – particularly X-rays – all changed the nature of hospitals and patient care. Doctors specialized in different fields of medicine and could no longer afford to own all the equipment needed for accurate diagnosis. The physicians on hospital staffs grew and they all demanded modern facilities equipped with the latest inventions. In other words, the hospital model transitioned from the well-run home into a professionally managed, cash-transition institution with a market-based approach. In 1904 the era of volunteer management drew to a close as the city looked to plans for a new, private hospital.

In 1904, Mrs. Electra Friday, a former matron at the first hospital, ushered Everett into a new phase of medical history and opened a private facility, Everett General Hospital. The new hospital signaled a step towards modernization, but the Lady Managers also shared in modernizing Everett. Over fifty women served diligently on board positions for a dozen years, and even greater numbers assisted with the annual bazaars, fund-raisers, and community events. Even though the board ended, the structure they helped create continued to serve the community as a Norwegian College and School for Normal Training. The building’s sale also extended the Lady Managers’ community influence by providing funds for purchasing books at the new Carnegie Library. The dozen years of civic-minded, humanitarian work by so many volunteer women helped care for Everett’s sick and injured as the area modernized from a Puget Sound boom-town into a well-established young city.

Sources:
—Information on the Lady Managers comes from 1892 – 1904 news articles from The Everett Herald, The Everett Times, The Everett News, and The Everett Daily Herald assembled by David Larson in two Everett Hospital binders, Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room Collection
—Whitfield, William. History of Snohomish County, Washington. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Pub. Co, 1926.
—General information on the term “Lady Managers” and their work at the Chicago World’s Fair comes from “The Board of Lady Managers, 1888 – 1893” (pages 285 – 310) in Barbara White’s The Beecher Sisters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), and from The Congress of Women held in the Woman’s Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893: with portraits, biographies, and addresses. Mary Kavanaugh Oldham Eagle, Editor (Cleveland: Hamilton, 1894).
—In the 1890s, most established hospitals in the Puget Sound were run by churches and denominational institutions. The Catholic Church helped Everett’s Catholics start Providence Hospital in the former Hotel Monte Christo in 1905. See Whitfield, Vol. I, p. 782 for Catholic hospital work in Everett. See Nancy Rockafeller & James W. Haviland (Editors) for general history of medicine in Seattle in Saddlebags to Scanners: the first 100 years of medicine in Washington State (Washington State Medical Association, Education & Research Foundation, 1989.)
—For the shift from the home – family model for hospitals to the modern industrial-organizational model, see “Preface” (ix-xvi) and Charles E. Rosenberg’s Introductory essay, “Community and Communities: The Evolution of the American Hospital” (pages 3-17) in The American General Hospital: Communities and Social Contexts, edited by Diana Elizabeth Long and Janet Golden (Ithaca: Cornel University Press, 1989).

©2008 Candace Trautman;
WLP Story #52

Snohomish County Women and the 1910 Suffrage Campaign

By Margaret Riddle and Louise Lindgren

Votes for Women, Vol 1, no. 11, December 1910

On November 8, 1910, Washington State’s male voters passed the women’s suffrage referendum by a majority of almost two to one, making Washington the fifth state in the nation to enfranchise women. But in that year Washington women were really winning back their vote. When Washington was a Territory, women could vote, but only from 1883 to 1889.

Women had backed reform closing down saloons and brothels. Through taxes and licensing these businesses were the mainstay of funding for many towns and cities. Thus suffrage was considered “bad for business.” Under pressure, the State Supreme Court cited a technicality making equal suffrage illegal. That, along with a strong saloon lobby, brought Washington into statehood in 1889 without women’s suffrage. For this reason, 1910 Washington suffragettes distanced themselves from the liquor issue, even though many strongly supported prohibition.

Winning the vote for women in Snohomish County

Snohomish County women were prominent in the 1910 campaign. A major player was Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna (1856-1926) of Edmonds. Missouri Hanna edited and published Votes for Women, the official organ of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association. The publication ran from 1909 to 1910 combining news from suffrage clubs throughout the state, editorials, cartoons and political commentary. When the vote was won, the paper continued through 1912 as The New Citizen, focusing on women’s issues.

Missouri Hanna was not new to journalism in 1910, having founded the Edmonds Review in 1904, the year she moved to Edmonds. She had been widowed and turned to journalism in order to support herself and two daughters. Her passionate and articulate support of women’s causes led her to publish Votes for Women. In Hanna’s words:

“It is argued that, given the ballot, women will cease to care for the home, leave the meals uncooked, the children uncared for, the buttons strewn while she rushes off to vote. As it only takes about two minutes to perform the function of voting none of the above calamities are likely to happen. We venture to guess that the enfranchised woman can cook and serve a delicious dinner, sew on the buttons, and kiss away the children’s tears with the same degree of success and womanliness that she can stand and hang to a strap in the crowded street car while her brother man sits comfortably, reads his paper contentedly and puffs tobacco smoke in her face, serenely oblivious of her presence.”

Hanna’s publication gives glimpses of other Snohomish County suffragettes. Some were prominent teachers such as Mary McNamara, president of both the Snohomish County and Edmonds Equal Suffrage Clubs and Rainie A. Small, a teacher in the Snohomish County schools for fourteen years. Small was also county superintendent of schools in 1900, principal of Florence and Edmonds High Schools and a pioneer worker for the Grange.

The Everett Suffrage Club

Everett was a strong center for labor and labor supported the suffrage cause. Voting support was needed to provide decent working conditions, safety regulations and the eight-hour day demanded by workers. It was also in the interest of working men to avoid competing with women who were usually hired at a lower rate of pay. If women could vote there might be a chance for labor’s long-sought “equal pay for equal work.”
In the September issue of Votes for Women, Hanna wrote that the Everett Suffrage Club had been one of the most successful in the state at gaining press coverage. The club was featured regularly in the Everett Daily Herald, the Everett Morning Tribune and the Labor Journal, thus reaching thousands of readers. Operating from a third-floor room in the new Commerce Block in Everett, suffrage club members strung a large, conspicuous yellow banner across Hewitt Avenue before election day with the legend “Vote for Amendment, Article VI: It Means Votes For Women”. Since the official ballot did not include the words “Woman Suffrage”, suffragettes felt they needed to educate voters on how to mark their ballots.

Dr. Ida Noyes McIntyre, M.D. (1859-1932) was the Everett club’s Vice President. She had come to Everett in 1901 to practice medicine and set up a clinic. A dedicated suffragette, Ida had helped win the vote for women in Colorado. She opened her clinic for meetings of the Everett Suffrage Club.

A colorful event captured front-page attention in both of Everett’s daily newspapers. On July 5, 1910, Ella M. Russell, president of the Everett Suffrage Club, rose to her feet before sixty-five hundred people in a Billy Sunday crusade in Everett to answer an attack on women’s suffrage. The attack came from Mrs. Rae Muirhead, a Bible speaker with the Sunday campaign. Mrs. Muirhead opposed women’s suffrage and in her testimony that evening said that a woman’s role was to teach her sons to vote properly. She also claimed to have received harassing letters from the Everett Suffrage Club. Ella Russell asked to be heard and when denied, stepped up on a bench in front of the hall and began to speak. Mrs. Muirhead, Ella explained, was a woman of influence. The suffrage club had written only in hopes of gaining her support. Reporting this event in Votes for Women, Missouri Hanna wrote: “This event became the rallying point of an enthusiasm for suffrage which has put Everett in the forefront of the campaign. Mrs. Russell is resourceful, she has rallied about her many able women and many novel schemes have been devised to further the cause of suffrage in Snohomish and adjoining counties.”

Mrs. Muirhead was not alone in her thinking. Many prominent women were against women’s suffrage citing passages from the Bible which placed women under the authority of men and predicting the downfall of the family and loss of women’s special “privileges and position” in society. The Everett Suffrage Club spoke to these women in the Labor Journal of November 4, 1910: “IF YOU WERE A GIRL WORKER: “No woman in silks and satins, whose only care is how she may keep her social light burning brighter than her rival’s has any right to stand in the way of the rights of the woman who toils.” And regarding widows with children who often lost not only the breadwinner but their inheritance when death intruded, the writer continued: “No woman, whose home interests are well cared for, has any right to stand in the way of the rights of the woman who has carried her mate to the grave.” This plea was before social “safety nets” such as Social Security!

The Vote is Won

The 1910 suffrage campaign was well organized. This time Washington women won the vote and kept it. Speaking at a victory party, Dr. Ida McIntyre expressed her delight with the win but also stated that she felt running for office would still be years away. Ten years later, August 26, 1920, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote nationwide.

Sources:
National American Woman Suffrage Association, and Washington Equal Suffrage Association. Votes for Women. Seattle, Wash: M.T.B. Hanna, 1909. [various issues] Accessed via UW Libraries Digital Collections Pamphlets and Textual Documents Collection, Washington Equal Suffrage Association “Votes for Women”

Everett Trades Council, Everett Central Labor Council (Wash.), and American Federation of Labor. The Labor Journal. Everett, Wash: Everett Trade Council, 1909. [all issues]

Louise Lindgren, “To Vote or Not Vote: That Was the Question,” The Third Age News and Information for Contemporary Seniors August 1995. [Senior Services of Snohomish County. Mukilteo, WA., 1990s]

The Everett Daily Herald. Everett, Wash: [s.n.], 1897.

For an updated version of this account see Historylink.org

Everett Woman’s Book Club

An Ongoing Legacy to Literacy

By Roberta Young Jonnet
“A room without books is like a body without a soul constant vigilance as stewards of the diverse cultures of our society.” – Cicero

Everett Womans Book Club group portrait
Everett Womans Book Club group portrait on the Monte Cristo Hotel steps

The women of Everett, Washington decided in 1894 that this was also true of the city and began plans for a public reading room. This was the genesis of the Everett Public Library. The women also founded the Everett General Hospital when the city was only three years old. The story of the Woman’s Book Club is the story of Everett and Snohomish County. Our foremothers saw a need, rolled up their sleeves and made it happen.

The women founded the Woman’s Columbian Book Club of Everett in 1894 and it still meets today. Now known as the Woman’s Book Club (WBC) with members from all over Puget Sound, there are over 300 members and 21 departments that gather to discuss the books they have read. The departments meet separately from September through May and gather monthly at the Everett Main library to hear speakers deliver talks on books like Trailblazers: The Women of Boeing by Betsy Case; or speakers from the Dawson Place Advocacy Center; or a hear a synopsis of books from local independent book sellers.

The organizational meeting in 1894 was held in home of Alice Baird. Those present decided it would include married women only (this is no longer the case). Mrs. Baird was elected the first president and she formed a committee to draw up a constitution. “We do not mean to let a year go by without doing at least one good thing for our city,” Mrs. Baird said. “We hope to have a library before a year.’ A resolution that was passed at the November 12 meeting of that year petitioning the mayor and council reads in part:

“The Woman’s Book Club of said city, being desirous of founding a free public library in said city, respectfully petitions your honorable body to aid in this direction and to take such steps as may be necessary to carry out the purposes herein set forth…”

Mrs. Baird’s leadership was so significant that a bronze plaque still hangs in the entrance hall of the library on Hoyt Avenue. It was presented by the WBC October 1, 1915, the year of Mrs. Baird’s death. Mrs. J.J. Clark spoke a tribute: “our lives are richer because of her.” Also in November of that year the women elected to join the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, made up of 450 women’s organizations. This is noteworthy because Mrs. Baird then wrote to these clubs asking for a donation of books. This garnered almost half of the nearly 1000 books for the first library. In an article from the Everett Herald, April 20, 1935, entitled “Pioneer Era Recalled as Everett Public Library Prepares for 40th Anniversary” traces the donations: “The response was generous, club women from Maine to California sending volumes…representative of the best authors of their respective districts and sets of works by standard authors.” The article states “At the time of its (WBC) resolution for a library in 1895, it was the only club in the general federation of women’s clubs to start a public library.” The goal of 1000 was reached in the summer of 1896. The city had committed to the idea of a library but gave it no funding. The WBC announced it was ready to turn over the books and the city accepted. It was February 1898 that the WBC decided to accept the offer of three rooms in City Hall for the books. The books were carried there an armful at a time by the women. The library formally opened April 21, 1898. The first librarian was Mrs. J.T. Lentzy, who had been appointed at the July 2nd meeting. By the April opening Alice McFarland, who was the daughter of Mrs. R. McFarland, was librarian. The donated books had been kept in the McFarlands home on Colby Avenue. Alice later married Leverich Duryee.

Frances Sears, a founding mother, wrote on the club’s 80th anniversary “Before you can understand the important function of the Women’s Book Club in the lives of the Charter members, and in the life of the community as well, you must visualize the new and crude Everett, that was our home prior to the advent of the Book Club. We had no street cars then, no paved streets, and scarcely any boardwalks…Stumps grew like sentinels around our houses; ferns grew luxuriously around the stumps…The saloon was everywhere in evidence. It was the chief social and political centre for the masculine population…our real privations were a dearth of amusements and lack of intellectual stimulus. So, we had amateur theatricals. It was a bookless town…Then the Book Club came; it sprang, it had no infancy. Renewing our youth, we went to school again. It is impossible to estimate the influence of the Book Club.”

Carnegie Library Everett Washington
Carnegie Library Everett Washington

The Carnegie library was opened October 3, 1905 at Oakes and Wall. Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire philanthropist, donated $25,000 for the new library in 1903. The city was required to pledge $2500 yearly. Checks of $5,000 each, were sent from the East, payable to Mrs. L.E. Thayer personally whenever the board required funds. She was the first woman member of the library board and its secretary for 12 years. The Carnegie building was the library’s home until the 1930s. One tradition that continues today with the WBC members is the Foremothers’ Luncheon, honoring those who founded the organization and created the library. The first banquet was held December 11, 1899. The members used a colonial tea party theme wearing caps and kerchiefs. They sang “Auld Lang Syne” at that meeting, a practice which is followed today.

A History of Service
During 1917 the WBC spent time at the Red Cross doing sewing. Also 8 dictionaries were purchased for the Reformatory in Monroe. In the 1920s and 1930s the women provided bus fare for poor children to attend Kindergarten; they advocated for the wrapping of bread; endorsed a proposal regarding meat inspection and narcotics control. Funds were given on a regular basis to Deaconess Children’s Home, Red Cross, General Hospital and Washington Girls Home. The WBC donated 405 dozen cookies to soldiers at Fort Lewis in 1941. By 1943 the Club began sponsoring students in nurses training at both hospitals. The USO presented a “Meritorious Service” certificate to the Club in 1946.

In 1945 a new tradition of donating a book to the library in honor of a deceased member was begun, in lieu of sending flowers. The Club donated $2000 in 1975 to the Northwest Room, at the downtown library. They also split a $3000 donation in 1987 between the city library and Everett Community College library, this being the year of the fire that destroyed the college’s library and in which firefighter Gary Parks lost his life. A recent donation was given earlier this year of $5000 to the Imagine Children’s Museum to purchase new books for the PJ’s Treehouse reading room. This purchase was to refresh the book collection originally donated by WBC in 2004.

In May of 2017, the Woman’s Book Club held a used book drive at their annual Spring Tea Luncheon. Hundreds of used books – both adult and children’s – were collected, sorted, and divided by book club volunteers, then hand delivered to local charities, including Housing Hope and the Reach Out and Read program in Monroe through the Providence Foundation. This book drive signified the ongoing commitment of encouraging literacy in the community.

© Roberta Young Jonnet 2018 All Rights Reserved

Local Women start Alderwood Manor Community Library

by Marie Little

Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942. Photographer: Bob Downing (One of Mrs. Engler's young patrons). Photograph Courtesy of the Photograph courtesy of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, circa 1940.
Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942. Photographer: Bob Downing (One of Mrs. Engler’s young patrons). Photograph Courtesy of the Photograph courtesy of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, circa 1940.

It is no surprise that the rural library district was proposed by the Snohomish County PTA Council and endorsed by Federated Women’s Clubs. Since the turn of the twentieth century, women in small towns and rural communities had worked to start libraries, struggling, during the Depression years to maintain access to reading materials.

In May 1945 the Alderwood Manor Community Library became the district’s first branch. This successful library was born in the early summer of 1921 when a group of women, including a teacher, Mrs. Viola Riff, met for a picnic at Lake Serene (then known as Mud Lake). The ladies met with Miss Mabel Ashley, the librarian of the Everett Public Library, and Mr. J.C. Roscoe, the City’s prosecuting attorney, in August at the home of Mrs. W.T. Ross for the purpose of organizing a Library Club, which was incorporated the following month. Mrs. Riff made room for the first books in a corner of her living room.
Soon the community library moved into an old logging-camp building donated by the Puget Mill Company, and then relocated to Lake Road on property owned by Puget Mill. The library flourished, supported by monthly dues paid by members and more ambitious projects such as bazaars, community dinners and plays. In addition to donated material, the fledgling library circulated books from the Washington State Traveling Library. By September 1941 their inventory of books reached 4,000. Two months later the small frame building burned.
The ladies courageously voted to use the insurance money to rebuild. They purchased a small unfinished house (pictured on the right) and moved it onto the property, which the Puget Mill Company deeded to them. Meanwhile, Hildreth Engler, the librarian, circulated books, donated by neighbors, from her home. The new library (declared by many to be better than before) opened in May 1942.
Above is the old logging camp building donated to be used as the library that burned in Nov. 1941. The librarian standing in the door is Mrs. Hildreth Engler who was the librarian at the time. She circulated books from her house until the new library opened in May 1942.

Photograph Courtesy the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. Circa 1921
Photograph Courtesy the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. Circa 1921

Encouraged by the county board to relocate the Alderwood Manor Branch to the town center when that rural area could be served by the bookmobiles, the Library Club worked with other community groups to establish a branch in the Fire Station and opened it in 1952. A branch was started at Monroe in 1954, and the new City of Mountlake Terrace joined the system in 1955.
The Lynnwood Library opened in 1960, and when the city limits were extended in 1962 to include Alderwood Manor, the little library that the local women had started 41 years earlier had the distinction of being the first branch in the Snohomish County system to be closed.

Resources : Jean Engler, interview with author, October 1996; Alderwood Community Library Minutes currently held in the Edmonds Museum; Historical Files relating to the Alderwood Library at the Sno-Isle Libraries Community Relations Office.
© 2006 Marie Little All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 14